In February 2003, the president was insistent that he hoped to find a peaceful solution to his standoff with Saddam Hussein’s Iraq, and would work with and through the United Nations to resolve the conflict. At least, that was what he was saying publicly.
According to a new report published today by El Pais, Spain’s largest daily newspaper, Bush told then-Spanish Prime Minister Jose Maria Aznar at the time that he was going to invade Iraq no matter what happened. Spanish speakers can read the transcript of their discussion — I’m a little rusty — but E&P has a report on the revelations.
Bush purportedly said he planned to invade Iraq in March “if there was a United Nations Security Council resolution or not…. We have to get rid of Saddam. We will be in Baghdad at the end of March.”
He said the U.S. takeover would happen without widespread destruction. He observed that he was willing to play bad cop to British Prime Minister Tony Blair’s good cop.
According to the transcript, Aznar asked Bush to be more patient and emphasized the importance of a U.N. resolution. The president said he was out of patience. Aznar said he was worried that Bush was overly optimistic about what would happen. Bush reportedly said, “I am optimistic because I believe I am right. I am at peace with myself.”